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If you're one of the 74 million Americans who aren't covered by an employer or government plan, chances are you've asked yourself that question recently. One big reason people avoid dental insurance is because those plans can be expensive.
The price for dental insurance can vary depending on where you live, but it's not uncommon for a basic cleaning to cost $100 - and that doesn't include the x-rays, the exam, or the cost of any repair work or fillings the dentist discovers during your visit. Fortunately, you can purchase your own coverage.
Wednesday, January 27th
Dental Insurance is the internet's best resource for both kinds of dental coverage: traditional insurance and discount plans. When using the Dental Insurance site to shop for coverage, you'll have access to a variety of providers.
In our testing, we found plans offered by the following providers:
You start by entering your zip code to find plans in your area. Then, if you know you want a particular provider, you can select from the filters on the left side of the page. These filters also let you sort your options by Plan Type (such as Dental HMO, Dental Prepaid, Discount Card, Indemnity, or PPO) or Monthly Cost.
Naturally, your monthly or annual costs will vary depending on the dental coverage you select, but at the time of our review the lowest-priced plan in our region was the discount card offered by Argus. For $6.95/month for an individual or $14.95 for households of 2+ members, your coverage would include $50 cleanings, $80 fillings, $640 for a crown, and unlimited use of discounts.
The lowest-priced dental insurance plan in our area was also offered by Argus as an HMO. Monthly premiums ranged from $7.95 for an individual to $21.55 for a family of 3 or more, and sample pricing for services included free cleanings, $80 fillings, and no plan maximum or waiting period.
We like how this site spells out very clearly the basic information about each plan, with further details and a dentist provider search just a click away - although we would love to see Dental Insurance add a feature that allows you to search for a dentist and then see which plans are accepted by his or her office. Be sure to pay attention to the first box below each provider name: that's where you can see right away if it's a traditional dental insurance plan or a discount card.
We really appreciate the section that tells you any deadlines for getting coverage. For example, the Argus plan mentioned above required us to apply by the 25th of the month to get coverage on the first day of the following month, while AmeriPlan usually becomes effective within 48 hours of submitting the application.
You can select up to three plans to see a detailed comparison, if you're having trouble narrowing down your choices. We strongly encourage you to verify that there are dentists in your area that accept the plan you choose before making your purchase. For instance, the Argus dental insurance mentioned above was listed as available in our area, but the provider search turned up no participating dentists in our area.
Dental Insurance is operated by Kelsey National Corporation, which has been in business for over 50 years. The company has a stellar "A+" rating with the BBB and zero registered complaints as an accredited business there. This service also has licensed insurance agents available via toll-free number, Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm Pacific Time, if you need help getting a quote, finding the right plan, or enrolling in the plan you've selected.
There's just no easier way to shop for traditional dental insurance and discount dental plans than the Dental Insurance site. No matter what type of coverage you want, this service will help you get the right plan for you, your significant other, or your whole family. Dental Insurance earns our highest ranking and is our recommended choice when shopping for dental insurance coverage.
As an online marketplace for dental discount coverage, Dental Plans offers an extensive range of options for saving money on preventative services, fillings and extractions, and much more. The company has been connecting members with providers since 1999.
Dental Plans gives you access to coverage from up to 30 different providers, depending on your area. In our major metro area, we got these results:
You may see plans from those providers on other dental insurance sites in our review, but Dental Plans wants to earn your business with a price match guarantee.
We were extremely impressed with the number of dentists in our area when we searched by zip code. The site makes it very easy to find the dentist and then determine which plans are accepted. This was the only dental care discount plan we found that offered our preferred dentist as an in-network provider.
Once you've selected the dentist you want to use, click on their name to see a comparison chart of sample discounts for plan members to help guide your choice. For example, the cost for an adult teeth cleaning ranged from $44 to $58 for premiums of $124.95 to $179.95 per year for an individual.
One thing that we noticed about Dental Plans that was different from other services in our review: all of their quotes are annual prices, not monthly. In their FAQ, it says that you would have to contact their customer service team to "discuss alternative payment options" like a monthly plan. When we chatted with a representative online, he told us that their monthly plans are typically priced 30% higher than annual plans - and the price match guarantee would not apply in that situation. So, unless you're looking at a competitor who also offers annually-priced plans, Dental Plans' price match won't be much use.
On the other hand, Dental Plans does a world-class job of creating happy members. Over more than 6,000 customer reviews, this company has almost all 4- and 5-star ratings. People who have used this service for years say that it helps them save money every time they visit the dentist, and with no extra forms to fill out, claims to submit, etc.
Also, at the time of our review, there was a promotion at the top of the site offering a 10% discount and 2 months free with a coupon code. Be sure to check for any featured discounts when you visit Dental Plans.
Another novel feature of Dental Plans is the ability to change your coverage any time your needs change. Did you get married, adopt a child, or suddenly need orthodontic coverage? Just get in touch with the: DP AtYourService Team and one of their experts will help match you to the perfect plan for your new circumstances.
Dental Plans is the best one-stop shop for the widest range of dental discount plans, including several of the providers we also evaluated in our reviews. If you want to save money and get excellent customer service, you can't beat what Dental Plans has to offer.
Careington wants to give you simple and affordable access to discounts on a range of healthcare services, ranging from dental to vision and including unique add-ons like telemedicine access. At the time of our most recent review, this dental discount plan provider was in good standing with the BBB: an A+ rating and accreditation, after being in business for nearly 30 years. (Note: Careington is not available in Washington State or Vermont.)
The site is very easy to use. Enter your zip code to see what Careington plans are available in your area. In our major metro area, these are the options:
Exact costs for services depend on where you live and the plan you select. Be sure to use the provider search to make sure there are dentists in your area. In our location, there was a good selection of dentists to choose from, many of which we knew to be reputable and skilled.
All plans require a one-time processing fee of $20. Your coverage begins immediately; if you need service right away, you can get your ID number through the toll-free number for Member Services.
Careington is a great option if you're looking for dental discount plans, and especially if you'd like some affordable extras like telemedicine or vision discounts. This company has a strong reputation, low premiums, and a good network of dentists and other providers.
Spirit Dental is a fully-featured dental insurance plan, not a discount plan. All coverage options through Spirit include the following benefits:
Spirit Dental Insurance is a product of Ameritas. You'll find Ameritas plans quoted on other sites in our review, so be sure to comparison shop and see if it makes more sense to purchase your coverage through a third-party site with other providers or directly from Ameritas through Spirit Dental.
When you get your list of providers, you can filter the results by other preferences like distance, specialty (orthodontist, pediatric dentist, and so on), weekend hours, and so on. Then, click on any dentist's name to get a cost estimator for the practice; we liked that "cost effective" ones are highlighted in green. Unfortunately, until you have a member ID number, you won't be able to access the cost estimator unless you create a user account. Be aware of the disclaimer: "It is unlawful to misrepresent yourself as the insured member in order to gain access to this system for any purpose." So, if you really want access to that cost estimator, don't enter false information!
There were plenty of dentists in our area, including several that we know to have a fantastic reputation for affordable, skillful dental care.
Dental insurance through Spirit isn't cheap. In our area, we could expect to pay a minimum of $31.63 per month for an individual plan, with a coverage limit of $750 in the first year, $1,000 in the second year, and $1250 in the third and subsequent years. That same plan costs $63.26/month for two people, and $101.22/month for a family of 3 or more. Those premiums all apply to Spirit's Network plans. If you want to use the dentist of your choice and s/he is not in the Ameritas network, you'll pay more ($161.63 for coverage of $1200 every year for a family plan, as an example).
Spirit Dental offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but if you've received any services under your plan you will not be eligible for a premium refund. You can still cancel your plan within those 30 days with no penalty.
Direct Benefits is the distributor of Spirit Dental's plans, and that company enjoys an "A+" rating at the BBB. There were also very positive customer comments registered there, particularly praising the company's helpfulness in sorting out any issues with getting coverage, confirming benefits with dentists, and so on. For all of these reasons, including the many benefits that come with every Spirit Dental Plan, we give this provider a solid 3.5-star rating, especially for those who want traditional dental insurance and not a discount dental plan.
Dental Save is a discount dental plan that "works like a wholesale price club for dental care", giving members access to discounts up to 50% on all dental procedures in their network.
Most of the providers included in the Dental Save plans use the Careington network, so we encourage you to read our review on that company and determine if it would make more sense to go directly through Careington or to use Dental Save for its other benefits. Some of these extras that are included are Hearing; Vision and Prescription discounts are included in both Dental Save and Careington plans.
Pricing with Dental Save is straightforward. On the main Pricing page, it's easy to toggle between yearly and monthly plans. Here's what you can expect to pay for this dental care discount program:
When we visited the Dental Save website, we got a pop-up offering us a discount of 15% on our plan subscription if we entered our email address.
Figuring out what you'd pay for service can be time-consuming. Once you have a list of providers in your area, you can see the network in which they participate and the fee schedule used by their office. Almost every single in-network dentist in our major metro area used the Careington POS network with a CI-4 fee schedule. If you're scratching your head, wondering what a CI-4 fee schedule is, you're not alone. We had to go to the Careington site and pull up a PDF of prices.
Here's what we found there. A preventative visit like cleaning (for an adult) would cost $55, while fillings would be somewhere between $84 and $92. How much would those cost out-of-pocket at your dentist's office? In our area, the average cost for the cleaning alone would easily be $100. So, for a family of 6, you could spend $600 for those cleanings, or pay the $200/year in Dental Save premiums and $330 for the cleanings. That saves you a total of $70, just on cleanings. You'll save more if you need fillings or more extensive procedures.
We found a few stray typos on the Dental Save site that made this service feel less experienced and professional than some of their competitors. ("Countinue whitout 50% off" and "Lear More" on a pop-up, for example. We also got a chuckle out of an image used on the Fee Schedules page that showed a charge for a "temporary feeling" instead of "filling")
On a positive note, the company has been in business for nearly 40 years and had an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review. Better yet, there were absolutely no complaints registered with the BBB regarding this dental care discount program. That's a big part of the reason behind our 3.5-star rating for this dental discount plan: despite the typos and the fact that they primarily offer Careington plans that can be purchased directly, this company has a good reputation for customer service.
eHealth, also known as eHealthInsurance, was founded in 1997 and was responsible for the very first internet-based sale of an insurance policy just a year later. The company was created with the mission to make it possible for individuals and families without insurance coverage to find what they needed easily and affordably. This site could be a good resource if you need one-stop shopping for a wide variety of insurance products, from health/dental/vision coverage to more specialized needs like pet insurance and travel insurance.
eHealth only offers traditional dental insurance plans, not dental discount programs. Although the eHealth site says that plans start at $8 per month, there were no available plans at that price point in our area. The lowest price in our area for a person of our sample demographic was $11.99/month. This is different from the other services in our review: each time we looked up plans in our area on those competitor sites, we were always able to find coverage at the advertised lowest available premium cost.
If you have a target budget or a type of plan (HMO, PPO, etc.) that you prefer, you can use the sort and filter options to narrow down the results. Once you've identified a plan that interests you, click on the details button to learn more: Overview, Primary Benefits, Additional Information, and Details and Documents. You'll also see any available add-ons that may or may not be with the same insurer as the dental plan: Vision coverage, Accident insurance, etc.
Our results list included dental insurance plans with the following carriers:
These providers offered plans running the gamut from PPO to HMO and Indemnity, and many of them had annual benefit limits from $1,000 to $3,000 per covered person. One plan, the Multiflex Dental Advantage Plus plan by Nationwide, had a monthly premium of $19.18 and an annual maximum coverage limit of $300; doing the math, that means a subscriber would be paying almost $240 a year for a coverage limit of $300. You'll definitely want to run the numbers in your situation, to make sure the plan you choose is worth the premiums you'll spend.
Using the eHealth site felt confusing and complicated. The service offers a toll-free number Monday-Friday from 9A-7P EST for people who need help, but we would have liked to see a live chat option too. We also didn't see anywhere to check if any of the dental insurance plans had providers in our area. In other words, to see if a plan would be accepted by our preferred dentist or to see if there are any in-network dentists near us, we would have to visit each insurer's site to make the determination. That leaves a lot of room for accidentally selecting the wrong plan (between the eHealth site and the insurers') and not getting accurate information about the dentists in our area.
eHealth has a good reputation and we like that they offer licensed insurance agents to help with a broad range of coverage products. But, if you're also looking to comparison shop for dental discount plans or you're not comfortable doing some legwork on your own to find out which plans have dentists nearby in their network, this might not be your favorite source of dental insurance plans.
Avia Dental Plan has been in business since 1994 and is committed to helping individuals, families, and groups of any size to save money on dental care.
This service works as a discount dental plan and also includes discounts for prescriptions and vision expenses. You can expect to pay $8.25 per month or $99 per year for an individual, $12 per month or $144 per year for two people, and $13.25 per month or $159 per year for a family of 3 or more. All plans include a one-time $20 processing fee.
Avia has one of the lowest fee schedules on the market. This means that you will spend less money for your typical dental services. For example, Avia members will only pay $15 for a periodic oral exam, instead of the $50+ that most dentists charge for cash patients. An adult cleaning is only $35, and a children's cleaning and fluoride treatment costs $46. That could save you a lot of money for your routine care.
If you need something more involved like a root canal, you'll get even bigger savings as an Avia member. A molar root canal can easily cost upwards of $1100 if you're paying out of pocket, but with the Avia discount dental plan you'll only spend $490. That savings would easily pay for your membership with just one procedure.
We had some issues navigating the site. Specifically, when we tried to search for dental plans in our area by zip code, we were taken to a third-party site and told that our IP address disqualified us from their offer. We spoke with a very friendly Avia representative who said that it was a known issue and who walked us through a better route to get the information we needed (click on your state on the map, then click on the blue Sign Up Now button on the right side. Select your state in the dropdown box, and then scroll down past the sign up form to see detailed information about their discount plans in your state).
Unfortunately, despite having more than 40,000 dental providers who accept Avia dental plans, this provider doesn't offer coverage in a long list of states, which may include Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Alaska, Hawaii, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
And, in our major metro area, there were only a few practices that came up as part of Avia's network of dentists. Those offices have a reputation of low-quality service, recommending unnecessary procedures, and not practicing a high standard of care with their patients. None of the dentists with a great reputation in our area were in Avia's network.
For that reason alone, Avia ranks at the bottom of the providers of dental insurance and savings plans in our review: there are just too many prospective customers who won't find what they need on this site, just because of where they live. And, even if Avia is available in your area and seems to be a good way to save money, you'll need to be sure that there's actually a dentist you trust that accepts their plans - otherwise you might wind up with subpar dental care that costs you more in the long run. We recommend that you consider the higher-ranked dental insurance and discount plans in our review.
When it comes to Dental Insurance, you have two main options: traditional dental insurance or discount dental plans. With dental insurance, it works as you'd imagine you pay a monthly premium, and you may or may not have an annual deductible.
On the other hand, discount dental plans give you access to savings on dental services and are often valid for use from the day you pay for coverage. Many of these dental savings plans have options for further discounts on vision, hearing, prescriptions, and even telemedicine services.
So, what's the advantage of using one over the other? It really depends on what you're looking for. Many people like the security of a traditional dental insurance policy, because they're already familiar with how they work. However, a growing number of consumers are opting for discount dental plans: even though you have to pay at the time of service, the amount you save compared with paying 100% out of pocket can be significant.
No matter which type of dental coverage you need, what should you consider as you choose the right provider and plan for you or your family? Here are several criteria to keep in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Dental Insurance and discount dental plans available today. We hope this information helps you find the best coverage for a healthy smile at the right price!
A person's smile often is the first thing others notice about them. A beautiful set of pearly whites can make or break that first impression.
Keeping our teeth, gums and mouth healthy goes a long way in improving our appearance. As we age, our teeth develop numerous issues which should be monitored and treated by a dental professional. But let's face it - dental procedures can be expensive. Even a routine exam and cleaning can cost over $100 in most areas. Costs can be even higher for those without dental insurance.
Recent figures indicate that 42 percent of all Americans go without dental insurance, which in turn results in a lack of regular visits to the dentist.
However, studies in recent years have linked improper dental care and health to everything from heart disease to diabetes and even cancer. A healthy mouth is the first step toward a healthy body.
Some people are lucky and have dental insurance included as part of their regular health insurance package through an employer. For those people, espousing the benefits of proper dental hygiene and care are unnecessary. They have the benefits in place and are happy to use them.
For those who are not lucky enough to have dental insurance through an employer, the benefits of purchasing your own plan through an insurance broker or directly from a dental insurance company are numerous.
Dental insurance plans have seen an increase in popularity in recent years due to the general populations' growing knowledge about the important of proper dental hygiene. This includes a twice-annual exam and cleaning by a dental professional. A recent spate of television ads promoting dental insurance plans has helped to spur that growth, accounting for roughly a 7 percent increase in the number of people who sought out and purchased dental insurance plans.
Another reason dental insurance plans have become so popular is that they are easier to navigate than a traditional health insurance plan. Because there are only so many dental procedures a person can undergo, plans are very clear as to what they cover and how much coverage is included.
Dental insurance plans also tend to be more affordable than traditional healthcare coverage plans, and the cost remains stable from year to year, whereas healthcare insurance costs are less predictable and often skyrocket from year to year.
Employers also are taking notice of the rise in popularity in dental insurance plans and are considering them as part of a comprehensive healthcare package to help attract the best employees. Next to annual salary, benefits are the next most important factor for many individuals when considering employment. Companies which offer healthcare and dental plans are more likely to not only attract the best people for the job, but retain them from one year to the next.
If you are among the people who are not lucky enough to have dental insurance through your employee benefits package, but would like to secure your own coverage, be sure to review the best plans for your area before making a decision.
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